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How The First 72+ Helps Formerly Incarcerated People in New Orleans

How The First 72+ Helps Formerly Incarcerated People in New Orleans

The First 72+ is a beacon of hope for those who have been recently released from prison. They recognize the importance of those first 72 hours, so they do their best to help people in the most critical hours after their release.


In this article, we will explain what The First 72+ is, how they may be able to help you, and how you can get started.

What is The First 72+?

The First 72+ is a reference to the first 72 hours after someone is released from incarceration. Many people are thrust back into the world without anywhere to go, anything to eat, or any way to get back on their feet.

This organization was founded to fill that gap.

It was founded in honor of Ben Smith, who made it his personal mission to be New Orleans’ most valuable reentry resource. He used to drive around, pick up people after their release, and help them get established. He’d take them to get documents, haircuts, new clothes, and jobs. It was life-changing for the people he served.


Ben knows that these people need a chance to get started. Once they made it through the first 72 hours, they could start planning for the long-term.

What do they offer?

The First 72+ offers a variety of services designed to offer immediate and long-term support.

  • Welcome Home Center is an old bail bonds office that was turned into a free transitional housing unit for formerly incarcerated men. You can live rent-free for 90 days while you receive support services to help you with your re-entry process. You’ll also get help with meals, groceries, clothing, and more.
  • Case Management provides personal mentoring from formerly incarcerated team members who can help you navigate life post-prison. They can help you connect to education, employment, health care, and more.
  • Technology Life Skills Program can teach you essential skills like resume building, mobile applications, and more to help you bridge the digital divide.
  • Legal Services are available to help you address any lingering legal issues post-release. They assist with license reinstatements, food stamp applications, and much more.
  • Financial Resources are available through partnerships with other organizations, like The Fountain Fund. They can provide low-interest loans and financial education, among other services.

How do I apply?

Getting help from The First 72+ is as easy as walking in the door. You can walk-in to their office on weekdays between 8:30 am and 4:00 pm for help. They are located at 2915 Perdido Street in New Orleans. If you prefer, you can call them at (504) 324-8859.

This organization places a lot of emphasis on letting you be in control of the process, so the following steps are just an overview. You have the ability to customize your own path.

Usually, the first thing you’ll need to do is go through intake. You’ll meet with one of their formerly incarcerated team members who will listen to your needs and figure out how their organization can help. During this process, you’ll also be assigned a Reentry Coach.

Once you’re done with intake, you’ll meet your Coach. The coach will address your immediate needs. No ID? They can help you get one. New clothes? They can help with that, too. They’ll do their best to make sure all your immediate needs are met.

Your next stop is the Public Benefits Clinic. That’s where you can get help enrolling in any programs that you may be eligible for. This may include programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as SNAP or Food Stamps) and Medicaid.


The coach can also help you get settled into free transitional housing, schedule an appointment for you at the Formerly Incarcerated Transitions Clinic and set you up with the Justice and Accountability Center for free legal assistance.

These are just some of the ways this incredible organization can help you! All you need to do is show up or call in to start your reentry journey.

Who is eligible?

The First 72+ serves men who have been formerly incarcerated. If you have been recently incarcerated and you’re located in New Orleans, then this organization may be able to assist you.

You don’t need a referral. You can walk in for services.


The First 72+ is an essential resource for formerly incarcerated men in New Orleans. This organization can provide free transitional housing, clothing, food and other essentials. They can also connect you with additional resources, like health care, legal assistance and financial resources. This is a must-try service if you meet their eligibility criteria!